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Loosening the Grip

mHealth, what's the fuss about?

mHealth is potentially game-changing. It’s not just about mobile phones – it’s about exploiting mobile wireless technology to improve outcomes and service delivery in the health and social care sectors and to support healthy lifestyle choices, enhancing wellbeing in day-to-day life.

The ageing population, the rise in public health crises such as obesity and other long-term conditions and the demands for significantly tighter public spending combine to create an unprecedented challenge to established models of health and social care.

mHealth can:

  • Collect real-time information from everyday environments.
  • Give access to a potentially vast pool of integrated health data.
  • Provide personalised feedback to help patients and clinicians better understand medical conditions.
  • Exploit the potential of social networking to assist informal as well as formal carers.

But are doctors fully on board when faced with the prospect of patient empowerment through mobile devices?

A recent report by PwC revealed that while 27% of providers actively encourage their patients to use mHealth applications to take control of their health, around 42% acknowledged that this increasing independence may shift the balance of power in the patient’s favour.

Read the report in full here...

But is this such a bad thing?

There are many studies that show that when patients take more ownership of their treatment, especially in long term conditions, outcomes improve, compliance increases and patient's report feeling better about themselves and the healthcare system.

It seems fair that patients have choice and engagement in their treatment options and patient empowerment and choice logically should have a beneficial effect on quality but are patients well enough informed to make the right decisions?

Are healthcare professionals really concerned about the uninformed rather than the empowered, or is their reluctance to embrace the new technology a defensive reaction to the erosion of the traditional doctor patient relationship.

Reluctant to Change?

Many physicians do recognize the positive possibilities for increased communication with mobile health.  However the overall proportions are relatively low, just over a third believe it can help monitor a patient’s condition, while 38% enjoy the idea of having remote access to EHR data.

And faint praise for evidence based medicine perhaps, since if it was shown that mHealth improved the quality of care, only 36% would adopt the technology more fully.

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